Love, Ken

Over the weekend, I saw Love, Simon. Just like Call Me By Your Name, I was not planning on seeing this movie at all, but here we are. I just happen to stumble upon its trailer while seeing another movie (I swear to God, I think it was Pitch Perfect 3), thought it was an adorable premise, and a good friend of mine asked if I would see it with him – so I went to Barnes and Noble and grabbed me a copy of the novel it was based on. I wanted to make sure I read the book first before seeing the movie because I am not going the same mistake with Natalie Portman’s Annihilation.

Love, Simon is about a closeted high school kid named Simon who was crushing on someone he met online codenamed Blue. A fellow student found out about it and blackmailed him – things go sideways, he got outed on a blog (which the movie refuses to acknowledge as Tumblr). He came out to everyone, got his guy, and lived a rather normal high school life.

I know I am oversimplifying the premise but I am not far off. But there were scenes here and there that really hit home for this aging homosexual. I totally understand why my Twitter feed was filled with “this is a movie I did not know I needed to see, and that every gay teen should see.”

 

SCENE ONE:

Right of the bat, I’m already lying. It’s not ONE particular scene, but a few – and they were all about coming out.

Simon was driving home with his buddy Abby and he came out to her. He has known her for only a few months, but he chose to come out to her first – even before coming out to a childhood best friend, or his family. Personally, I did the same. I am not a big fan of making an event out of it. I do not think it should be anything special but rather be treated as a fact. And I totally understood where Simon was coming from – it is harder to come out to someone you have known your whole life because you do not want them to think that you were putting on a mask the whole time. And it’s embarrassing because you do not want to make it seem like you have been living a lie, but on some level, you were.

When word got out that Simon was gay via a blog that everyone in town seem to peruse, his younger sister talked to him and said she saw the post, and that she reported it so it can be taken down. She offered to keep his secret if he was ashamed of it, to which he replied he was not. I still do not why I never came out earlier, because I have said that: I am not ashamed of being gay. And yet I held back as long as I can from having this conversation with my mom and dad. I had nothing holding me back – maybe just the unexplainable raging hormones of being a teenager, that made way to the angst of my early twenties. If you know my mother in any form or manner, then you should know I had no cards playing against me. As for my dad, he was not around. When I moved to the US to live with my dad, I was already in my twenties – almost everything in my personality was already set in stone (another lie, not completely true). But it took a potential break up for me to reach out to both and say “hey, what do I do now?”

Probably one of the most intense scenes in the movie was when Simon’s blackmailer and out-er Martin asked to talk and Simon basically lost it, screaming at Martin that coming out should have been in his terms, in his own way, in his own time – but Martin took that away from him. After coming out, I see two paths: you either feel the need to make others come out, or you would totally understand why someone stays in the closet. It is easy to say it is not a big deal, “I’ve done it” but things are just different with everybody. At the end of the day, you got to do things your way. My body, my choice.

 

SCENE TWO:

Simon coming home and saw his mom in the living room, and he asked “did you know?” Simon’s mom, played by Jennifer Garner, gave an awesome speech. A speech so well-delivered, it was almost as if Garner had her eyes on an Oscar which she will not get for this movie because this is the wrong vehicle and because the award giving body did not give one to Michael Stuhlbarg after his similar but exponentially more stellar scene from Call Me By Your Name.

“These last few years I could almost hear you holding your breath … You are still you, Simon. You’re the same son I love to tease … the same brother who compliments his sister’s food even when it sucks. And now you get to be you more than you’ve ever been. You get to exhale.”

It was beautiful. And more importantly, it was true. You grow up putting up a wall brick by brick, building a fortress around your heart – not learning what happiness truly feels like. And then you come out, walls crashing down and you walk like an open nerve feeling everything there is to feel. And you become so happy you cry.

 

SCENE THREE:

Like most movies, Love, Simon ended how it started: Simon heading out to school, driving around town, picking up his friends, grabbing iced coffees. One difference was in the ending, they also pick up his boyfriend, kissed, then drove to school. There was a banality to it. It was “ordinary.” Normal. And that has always been something I strive for. And this is why the movie is important today for young gay kids. It is no Oscar film, don’t get me wrong – but I don’t think an Oscar is what the creators and actors were looking in having this movie made. I would have benefitted a lot from it growing up, but only a time machine can change things now. I hope the younger generation would appreciate why a movie like this is in theaters nationwide. Because “everyone deserves their own love story.”

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Chronicles of an Alone Non-Single Guy – Part Two

Tuesday night, I checked out the movie The Right to Love: An American Family. It’s basically about a gay couple and their two kids, and what they went through during the big hoo-haa of Proposition 8. It was a good documentary of a family doing “normal” stuff. I think it was the point, families with gay parents don’t really ask for anything special – just be treated the same as everyone else. The Prop 8 issue on the movie kinda dated it, which makes the movie feel “old”. I worry it dampened its relevance, because it is still a timely issue. Unless marriage is made equal on the federal level, I think the movie would remain important.
After the movie, I joined a bunch of HRC volunteers for drinks. I should consider doing volunteer work. But I think of myself too much to do volunteer work. That;s why I just give money. As Karen Walker would say as she writes a check, “Guilt begone!”
Thursday night was great! I enjoy comedy, I love the East Village, and I enjoy dive bars – so when I heard about a comedy show in a dive bar in the East Village, I knew I had to show up.

I heard about it through Dave. I’ve been listening to his podcast with Ben Harvey. They have a radio show now at Sirius, but I don’t have Sirius so I download the iTunes feed.
I’ve never seen him do stand-up so I went. A pleasant surprise was Craig Baldo! We’ve met once before, we have a common friend who happens to be a former professor from Colorado.
I probably had too much that Thursday night – by the time I got home, I felt feverish. By the morning, I could hardly breathe because my throat felt closing up. My tonsils were inflamed, and it hurt so bad. I did something I haven’t done in a long time – called sick and took the day off. I stayed in bed and watched America’s Top Model reruns. I also Googled tonsillectomy. Videos are available in Youtube. I saw images of removed tonsils, they look like gonads. It was disgusting and fascinating.
I was up as early as six this morning. Just probably excited – Andy is coming home today 🙂 I’ll pick him up later from Jersey. In the mean time, since I still can’t eat, decided to cook soup.

***
Cutting through the darkest night are my two headlights
Try to keep it clear, but I’m losing it here
To the twilight
There’s a dead end to my left
There’s a burning bush to my right
You aren’t in sight

Chronicles of an Alone Non-Single Guy – Part One

Growing up an only child, you basically grow accustomed to being alone. This did not bode well when I first started going to school and my first reaction as I was surrounded by tens of kids my age was “Who are these kids?” and “Please don’t talk to me, I’m reading the newspaper and I’m really interested on how this upcoming local election is going to make changes in my neighborhood.” At 21, I first met my 7 year old brother who’s first line to me was “I love rocks” and I had to learn how to share almost everything. I was impaired. So naturally, when I found someone I want to be with, I cling on like a barnacle.
My boyfriend and I do not live together. I made it a point that we see each other almost everyday. I don’t know if this is a “rule” but Andy has always tried his best to comply. This is why when I found out that he’s going to Japan, I almost flipped out. We were with his friends having drinks, and in public – so I did my best to compose myself.
Andy and his best bud took off for Japan Thursday. They had a morning flight from Newark, so I skipped the send-off. Before his flight took off, he gave a quick call to say bye and then that’s when it started – the dread of knowing I won’t see him for the next ten days.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been apart many times – the only main difference really is I’m the one who takes off. I just don’t know how to prepare myself as the one “left behind”. The only comparable trip I can think of is when I went home to the Philippines, and I was gone for ten days as well. And even when I’m gone, I try to find ways to shoot a BBM or a Facebook chat – which is extremely hard when you’re in a third world country and the only WiFi I get is from the mall.
I actually weighed myself – we’ve been in this health kick and been going to the gym five to six times a week and I’ve lost a few pounds already. Have not yet decided if it was because of the spin classes, or the depression that suppresses my appetite.
I’ve been trying to preoccupy myself. Fortunately, same day Andy left, was a company dinner. Nothing helps to forget like good food and alcohol.

G-Star

I love how the restaurant put the company logo in their menus for us that night.


The following night was fairly the same – good food and drinks. I had dinner at a raw food place, Rawlicious, down in SoHo near my job. I actually saw a college friend of mine. We were together during a trip in DC (fully documented here). Ever since, Natasha has been living in Las Vegas, and if you need a make-up artist, you should really get in touch with her because she’s fucking amazing.

I had a fake pasta bolognese dish – the “pasta” was zucchini and God knows what’s in the bolognese sauce. It was pretty good though, I’d go back.


I brought Natasha along to see my two friends slash coworkers Lindsay and Nikki. We go to this Russian bar Pravda, which I think has been decided as our watering hole whenever Nikki is in town. So it was me and three fine ladies – it was a typical girls’ night out, I guess. Talked shit about work, and about boyfriends/husbands/fiances over vodka martinis.
Lindsay, Natasha and I eventually head out to the East Village for more drinks while Nikki was picked up by our friend Rachel and they head uptown.

This is me and Nikki, holding fingers, and cheating on our boyfriends.


I spent my Saturday with my best bud Ryan. She wanted to go to a Monet exhibit that we thought was in Governors Island – we spent a day there not finding the damn exhibit because it was in the New York Botanical Gardens up in the Bronx. I honestly had a good time, and for a while, I forgot about Andy. Ryan and I tend to be stupid silly when we’re together, throw in a camera in the mix and the silliness is exponentially increased.

There’s a hidden game here in this picture – it’s called find the two yellow dots.


I honestly was not aware Ryan was taking my picture. This is me ignoring the world because I just got a BBM from my boyfriend.


Sunday was particularly quiet. I went to the gym because I promised Andy I’d go even when he’s not around. It was weird though, because when he’s next to me in a spin class, we can laugh and talk about the characters in the gym. But now, spinning by myself – if I see something funny, I look stupid and creepy smiling by myself.
Had a quick brunch, and even went to church. I haven’t talked to God in a while.

I got gutsy and tried to get in touch with Andy’s brother and sister. I was going to shop for Andy’s birthday gift and I wanted their opinion. I had his brother’s number from an old resume, and his sister’s e-mail from a Netflix account. I never heard back from neither. Not sure anyway if I got the right contacts. But still, a part of me was hoping to hear back. They’re the two people that are closest that I could be with Andy. And it’s not like I can just show up in their place in Astoria. It’s just disheartening. It’s one of those I have yet to process, though I’m sure they too are still digesting the fact that I’ve been dating their brother for almost five years now. Insert *sigh* here.

How to Avoid a Knife Attack: Visit Governors Island and Watch The Dark Knight Rises

Downtown New York City is filled with two kinds of creatures: people working the stock markets and tourists who want to see the World Trade Center site. I haven’t decided which one is more vile. But yesterday was a Saturday, so it was just tourists. My best bud Ryan and I wanted to check out one of the islands often ignored. More ignored than Staten Island. South of Manhattan is a relatively unknown island, Governors Island. It’s actually closer to Brooklyn, separated by the Buttermilk Channel – which sounds both yummy and disgusting. It’s a quick ten-minute ferry ride from Manhattan to get to the island.

From what I gathered, the Dutch bought the island from the natives, which was then taken over by the British and set aside as the governor’s residence. If I have to point out that this is how Governors Island got its name, I’m sorry for you. The Americans eventually took over and the island was fortified. A castle was built that overlooks the sea where a foreign naval attack may originate. It was turned into a prison afterwards. Many years later, the Coast Guard took over and turned the buildings in the island as residence. At some point, the Coast Guard left and the island was closed from the public. Bloomberg had it open and the island became part of the national parks.

Enough history. I’m sure Google and Wikipedia can offer better information anyway.

Ryan and I got to the island hungry and we were worried about the food situation. Food in a small patch of land surrounded by water is not too different from food served in boats and ferries – which is never good. The island had a “food court” which consists of a few food trucks lined up in between buildings. Not the same fancy food trucks you may find in Union Square that dare to make Korean food into tacos or make fancy grilled cheese sandwiches by using brie instead of processed cheese that comes in single wraps, the food is pretty much like street food. Which is to say it’s actually good if you’re hungry and have no regard for hygiene or standards. Ryan and I were hungry with no regard for hygiene or standards. We finished out barbeque chicken, yellow rice and sweet plantains that Ryan refused to share with me and had ice softees. Ryan had vanilla and chocolate twist which made her cough, and I had vanilla dipped in cherry. I’m convinced that the cherry coating they use is partially made of wax. Think about it – the ice cream truck keeps the cherry syrup in a warm container where it remains liquid, and yet dipping cold ice cream to it hardens it almost instantly. And that shit tastes like wax with a hint of cherry flavoring.

We headed over to the sculpture garden where you’d find a face replica of The Statue of Liberty sticking out of the ground. It offers a point of view you won’t see from the real statue as you can’t get the same vantage point if you visit Liberty Island. Lady Liberty does not have boogers.

Not far is a huge tv set where one can go “inside” and be a tv star. Ryan did her best Vitamin Water endorsement. To book her, call me – I’m her manager.

There was also a mini golf area but I haven’t actually figured out if this was for adults or just for kids. I don’t play golf, nor the mini version, so I didn’t care to find out.

We walked back pass the food court and went to one of the buildings that is used for exhibits and stores. This building, which I assume is a similar layout as the rest on this particular street, had three sections. Each section has three floors and each floor has two doors leading to apartments. Each apartment has two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a living space. They are rather small but I would kill to get an apartment similar to those.

We went to one section which is basically a store. They have a collection of handmade jewelry, screen printed shirts and tote canvas bags, artworks and other knick knacks.

The next section has an exhibit of old costumes that are basically rejects from museums because they are tattered and torn due to negligence and time. Ryan: “Of course there are neglected, museums didn’t take them to be preserved.” That girl made a good point – it’s like talking to Rain Man sometimes. There was a wedding gown in the living room surrounded by peeling paint chips from the walls of the old building. It was eerie and beautiful and it felt like New Orleans.

The last section has more artworks – sculptures and watercolor painting made en plein air of views and sites of the island.

We walked along the edge of the island through old buildings that look like were once lived in. There was a garage door left open with light coming in from the other side through windows covered in dirt and dust. It created a rather smokey light inside the garage that was so pretty, Instagram should create a filter like this for their app.

By the dock is a building that smells like a hospital. Ryan, being a nurse, can verify such odor of sanitized disease. We skipped the building coming in because of hunger fully discussed a few paragraphs earlier. There is an exhibit going on about graphics, which was surprisingly interesting. There were print ads, posters, and books about and of cool graphic designs (sidebar: I detest the word “cool” because it’s a lazy way of saying something is interesting without expanding on the idea – but I am being lazy right now. What? I’m not a paid writer).

***

For some reason, I am not excited about seeing Man of Steel. Every time I see Henry Cavill, I think of my boyfriend’s brother who I think is a dead ringer of Cavill. I can’t be trusted as I’ve seen him a total of three times including one New Year’s Eve when he spent most of the time in a different room playing video games.

Man of Steel is directed by the same guy who directed the latest Batman movie, Christopher Nolan. The third installment of the trilogy being The Dark Knight Rises which Ryan hasn’t seen, so we decided to see it. Also, we missed the Bourne movie by ten minutes.

Am I alone when I say Anne Hathaway did a great job? I feel dirty saying that. The dirty dive bar scene really did it for me, when she pretended she was an innocent bystander. I am not of course saying she did a great Catwoman. I still have issues with that. You can’t just give someone cat ears and call her Catwoman.  The character she played could have been anyone if you think about it, I don’t think it has to be Selina Kyle.

Tom Brady as Bane did one thing: give a few guys a Halloween costume this fall. And it’s really easy, I may do it myself: grab a brown leather coat, hold on to the lapels, put a black jockstrap over your head and speak in a sing-song manner with a British accent. How hard could that be? I already did my impression of Bane by just using my hands.

In a way, my greatest disappointment was really Miranda Tate. Marion Cottillard could have been a great Catwoman. I mean look at her! She already looks like a cat! She’s feline and seductive. Isn’t that the Catwoman mold? Tate being Talia as the twist was really good, but I saw it coming after Liam Neeson echoed Tate’s words in Bruce Wayne’s hallucinations. What really scared me was all her balance with nature talk – what if she ended up taking off her clothes to show a green leotard underneath and then started talking to plants? Poison Ivy was all about saving the planet, so was Miranda Tate.

Another good surprise was Blake’s legal name was Robin. Ryan almost lost her shit when she heard it. Look at Joseph Gordon-Levitt – doesn’t he look like The Riddler? I think that was a casting opportunity missed.

***

Before reaching the movie theater in Times Square, Ryan and I took the 1 train from Battery Park. We got out of the subway on the corner of 41st and Seventh Avenue by a Red Lobster when a bunch of people started running around the same corner. My first thought was “Lady, there are no sale worth running to” and then I realized she was running AWAY from something. Around the corner, I saw about ten cops, guns out of holsters. I look ahead of me, and I realized that not more than twenty feet away from was a guy brandishing a ten-inch butcher knife. He could have ran towards my direction, it was not much of a feat. My only consolation is I was actually behind a crowd of people. With their cellphones out. Taking pictures and videos of a desperate guy trying to get away from the cops. It made me sick to think that it is very possible that these people are also waiting for the worst to happen, and that they can take pictures of it, take videos, and put them up on Youtube, and on Facebook. I hoped that I was wrong. But I wasn’t.

Read more here: New York Times.

Psychoanalyse This

Over lunch yesterday, my coworkers and I were talking about Disney movies and all I could think of is how these Disneyfied movies actually had very gruesome origin stories. Somebody also mentioned the Saw movies and the M. Night Shyamalan movie The Devil, and I think the discussion stuck with me in the back of my head because I had a scary dream last night.

Below is the nightmare that woke me at three in the morning. It started like a rom-com, but ended up like a gore movie. Please skip if squeamish.

I was on the A train heading to Brooklyn. Across from me was Dave. He was meeting his mom. Apparently, there is a mom-son picnic going on in DUMBO. The picnic is for Jewish mothers with single gay sons hoping they can match them and send them off towards marriage or at least a long-term relationship. Why Dave has a David Bowie lightning make-up on his left eye, I do not understand nor did I ask for an explanation.
It was a sunny day in DUMBO, Dave and i parted ways and he headed to the crowd of moms and sons – matching each other like a human-Grindr. I walked pass by the park to what looks like a forest. Then, “the camera” shifted from my point of view, panning out to a view of a rather wide-range of trees (clearly, we are not in New York anymore) then around what I was thought was me. It was just a generic Hollywood white guy talking to Dave in the train and I was just seeing his point of view.
Our main guy continued walking through the trees to a cabin. There were a bunch of wild-haired women wearing hospital gowns. They looked gnarly. And they looked at our main guy like he was food, and they were all ravenous. Main guy started running as a gaggle of crazy old women started running after him. He can clearly see a clinic ahead – surely a doctor, or a nurse – anyone who seems authoritarian who can help would be in it. As he walked in the door, several hands from behind him got a hold of him.
Our main guy woke up. He was wearing a hospital gown himself. A nurse looms on top of him. She said he was badly hurt by the old ladies. Main guy felt a pain on his groin. The nurse started explaining that they had to take out his right testicle. He suddenly got up from the hospital bed. And across from him, he can see a doctor, nailing down his testicle against a wooden table, maniacally laughing.

Any psychologists out there who can help me figure out what is wrong with me based on that dream?